Readers may remember this story from almost exactly a year ago. In Birmingham, England, police forbade Christians from passing out Christian tracts and speaking to Muslims about Christianity on the street in a "Muslim area." News from what Auster calls the Dead Island, right?
Well, yes, but now via Jihad Watch comes word of something unpleasantly similar happening in our beloved United States, in Dearborn, Michigan. Every year, a group called Arabic Christian Perspective sends its representatives to walk (on the public sidewalks) among the people attending the Arab International Festival in Dearborn and to distribute Christian literature to them. As a courtesy, ACP notifies police in advance of its intention to do this, and this year the police told them they couldn't. Instead, they would have to man a booth in a restricted area. At first, they were offered a centrally located area, but later they were arbitrarily moved to a location on the fringes of the festival. A federal judge refused to issue a restraining order against the police, so ACP has had to obey the police for this year. Be it noted that, according to the ACP's lawyer, this ban does not apply generally to any group wishing to distribute literature at the festival and, indeed, has not applied to the ACP in the past. So there is no question of this being merely business as usual. Moreover, as there is no evidence that any other group has been treated in this way (I suppose PETA would, if they wanted, be able to walk about and distribute pamphlets on the alleged cruelty of Muslim slaughter techniques, for example), there is every reason to believe that this is content-based and targeted at the Christian group because of the nature of their message and the Muslim context. It could even be that the police are afraid that the Christians could be attacked and are sincerely concerned for their safety, but protecting innocent people engaging in legal activities is, after all, what police are for. "These thugs might beat you up if they don't like what you are saying, so you have to shut up" is not, repeat not, the American way. A freedom of speech lawsuit has been filed on the group's behalf in federal court. At least we have that recourse in the U.S. We'll see how the suit comes out.
The lawyer has said that he intends to advise his clients next year not to pre-notify the police of their intentions. That should be interesting. If Dearborn police wander about the festival specifically looking for Christians to round up on the basis of the literature they are distributing, that should be a knock-down for a new lawsuit. In fact, it would be a great idea for friends and associates of the ACP to go out distributing some entirely different type of literature, something that might somehow be deemed "Muslim-friendly," to see what happens to them. But I don't know what the legal ramifications are of such "reverse sting" operations.
It can happen here. It is happening here. The consequences of mass Muslim immigration (Dearborn is 30% Muslim) continue.